A contractor sent a memo to union leaders that said attendance was “not mandatory,” but noted that only the employees who arrived there at 7 a.m. and were ready to have their identification cards scanned and attend the speech would receive pay, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Saturday.
“No yelling, shouting, protesting or anything viewed as resistance will be tolerated at the event. An underlying theme of the event is to promote good will from the unions. Your building trades leaders and jobs stewards have agreed to this,” the memo said.
Meanwhile, Shell spokesman Ray Fisher told The New York Times in a statement that “it was understood some would choose not to attend the presidential visit and were given the option to take paid time off.”
“As with any workweek, if someone chooses to take [paid time off] they are not eligible to receive the maximum overtime available,” he added.
The event was regarded as a training day for workers, Fisher said, adding that just the guest speaker “happened to be the president.”
Also, several other companies with Shell contracts along with their employees attended the speech, according to the Gazette, which cited many employees as saying that their contracts required them to be present at the event to receive pay.
Although the president was scheduled to focus on “America’s Energy Dominance and Manufacturing Revival,” he instead pushed a political message, drawing criticism.
In his speech, Trump criticized Democratic primary candidates, saying, “I don’t think they give a damn about Western Pennsylvania, do you?”
He also claimed credit for the construction of the plant, which had been first announced under the administration of former President Barack Obama, saying, “This would have never happened without me and us.”